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Immunoglobulin A

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is a class of antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune system's defense against infections at mucosal surfaces. Mucosal surfaces include areas like the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and genitourinary tract, which are the primary entry points for many pathogens. IgA is one of the five major classes of antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins), along with IgG, IgM, IgD, and IgE. It exists in two main forms: secretory IgA and serum IgA.

1. Secretory IgA: This is the predominant form of IgA found at mucosal surfaces. It is produced by plasma cells located in the mucosal tissues and is uniquely designed to provide localized defense against invading pathogens. Secretory IgA is resistant to degradation by enzymes present in mucosal secretions, which allows it to remain active and effective in the presence of digestive enzymes and other harmful substances.

2. Serum IgA: This form of IgA circulates in the bloodstream and is involved in systemic immune responses. It helps protect against infections that may spread through the blood or lymphatic system.

Functions of IgA include:
• Neutralization: IgA can neutralize pathogens and toxins, preventing them from attaching to and invading host cells.
• Agglutination: IgA can cause pathogens to clump together, making it easier for other components of the immune system to eliminate them. • Immune Exclusion: IgA can block the entry of pathogens through mucosal surfaces, acting as a physical barrier.
• Modulation of Immune Responses: IgA can influence the activity of other immune cells and contribute to the regulation of the immune system.

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